The Vanguard said on Saturday that it was investigating a senior staff member at the newspaper who hurled an ethnic slur on the internet.
Ochereome Nnanna, a columnist and chairman of the paper’s editorial board, apparently disparaged the Yoruba ethnic group as “sophisticated morons” in a Facebook thread over the award of Nigeria’s highest honour to Moshood Abiola.
Mr Abiola, a prominent Nigerian of Yoruba origin was the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election that was voided by Ibrahim Babangida, military dictator from 1985-93. President Muhammadu Buhari on June 6 conferred the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on Mr Abiola, a posthumous honour that came 20 years after his death.
The move been warmly received across the country, but many Nigerians have also questioned its motive with elections months away.
Critics have accused Mr Buhari of seeking political advantage amongst the Yoruba, most of whom voted for him in 2015 but are now increasingly wary of giving him a second term in 2019.
Mr Nnanna was ostensibly debating the political dimension of the development with his Facebook circles on Friday when someone suggested it would be surprising if the Yoruba fall for the gambit as they are seen as “the most sophisticated ethnic group politically in Nigeria.”
“Sophisticated morons more like,” Mr Nnanna retorted. His comments elicited widespread condemnation, and his employers were compelled to issue a statement